Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Have a Dream

During the January calendar for Riley's class, she is asked to answer or do four out of five activities each week.  One of the items was to talk about Martin Luther King and tell what his dream was.  The question then asks "What dream do you have?"

Riley answered "My dream would be that everyone would love God."

Making a Will

My friend recently lost her fiance of seven years.  She has gone through so much due to not having a will and him not having a will.  The fact that they never married and didn't have anything in writing has made things extremely difficult for her.  She has told me several times that the best thing they could have ever done was to have had a will.  She said it would have made things infinitely easier after his death.

Yesterday she told me again that I absolutely should make a will - even if it was using online forms.  Just to have something down in case something were to ever happen.  So I did it.  I went to rocketlawyer.com and was able to get a will drafted.  Was awesome.  Took an hour or a little longer.  I was able to get tons of important decisions down and have it signed and put in a folder.

Jeremy thought it was hilarious that I decided to use free time after the girls went to bed to draft one, but after hearing Ed talk about it for two months, it really is an important document to have and I was in the mood to do it.

The document is now in the hutch in the office - filing drawer in a blue file folder. (just in case anyone would ever need to know)

It does feel good to have it drawn and to know that there is at least something to protect our kids if anything were to happen.

The other important info she gave was to have all usernames and passwords to all accounts in a central location.  Being that there are accounts we have that I don't know this information, probably one of the things we'll work on and put with the will as well.  Never would have thought about that before.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

On the mend!!

Girls had a good day today - woo hoo!!!  No fevers, a good nap for Julia and much more normal energy from both girls.  So nice to see them behaving and acting like themselves again.

Julia woke me up around 7am and we went downstairs.  Immediately did a ton of puzzles together.  This girl loves her puzzles!!!  She is getting very very good at her Minnie Mouse ones.  May have to find some new ones for her as she just can't get enough of them.

The other night Riley and Julia decided to do Julia's favorite puzzle (the 50 states) together. Jeremy and I found ourselves cracking up!  Riley would be looking to find where a piece went and wasn't taking much time at all.  But Julia would look at the piece Riley picked up and then point and say 'It goes here Ryee!'  or 'I do it for you!'  Riley was totally frustrated and we tried to keep it as light as possible.  Julia was very proud to be able to help her out. If she put a piece in the wrong place or would try to fit it somewhere it didn't belong, Julia would say "It not go there.  It go here." And then she'd put it in the right spot right away.

She is very good at figuring out how to put them together and trying out different places and rearranging them to go together.  Very impressed!!

Riley's reading has exploded.  Amazed at the progress she is making in her reading this year and so thankful she is still loving it!

Madi is now living with Monica and still amazing them as well.  She is truly an amazing girl with so much intelligence and higher level thinking and just so smart.  She's going to do really amazing things in life.  I truly believe that.  She'll get to come and spend the night on Monday night since she has Honor Choir on Monday night.  Looking forward to having her over and spending time with her again!

One more day until I'm back at work.  I'm actually a little nervous because it's been an entire week off and it feels like forever since I taught.  Looking forward to getting back to normal and praying that the rest of the year goes wonderfully!!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Healing

The girls seem to be getting to the end of this bout with flu.  Poor things!!  Has been a sweet, but long week.  Riley is still quite emotional and very tired.  Julia had a very rough morning, but by the middle of the day, she was very happy and had more energy.

We spent much of the morning doing puzzles.  Then went upstairs and turned on the lights inside of the playhouses and read tons and tons of books.  We also played with a fake cupcake set that they got for Christmas.  Turns out the markers are very very messy.  By the time they were done with them tonight, Julia's face was almost entirely blue just from her rubbing her hands on her face.  Hilarious.

I have thoroughly loved snuggling with them and spoiling them with hugs and kisses.  I am looking forward to going back to work on Monday and seeing the kids at school.  But I will definitely miss being home with the girls.  They are so precious.

We picked up Madi at the end of the school day and I went inside to pick up Riley's work that she had missed.  Ms. E gave me a book that they read in class that was an older first grade book.  She said she thought Riley would really love to read it.  She was right!

After we got home, I asked Riley if she wanted to do some pages with me.  She goes "Sure! Yippee!  I'm so excited to do my work!"  Hoping this enthusiasm lasts for years... :)

She worked through her five math pages in no time.  And then picked a book we have read and wrote down the title, counted the words in the title and had to write words that she knew from the book.  She started out by reading the story and found twenty one words that she knew.  Then wrote three sentences using the words she knew.  I was impressed.  But then, I'm always impressed with her.

Her report card today was stellar!  She is growing and developing into such an amazing young girl.  It's great to see her love for learning and how she's also developing great character as well.

This weekend should still be fairly low-key.  Jeremy still isn't feeling great and the girls are recovering.  We really would like to go to church, but don't want the girls to pass anything on especially Jules as she is still considered contagious for a few days.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Painting Class

A 'need to remember because it looks like fun' night with girls.  One of my goals for this year is to go to a painting class.  I've had friends who have done it with other friends and I've wanted to go for a few years now.  Found a great location where my neighbor Amanda did a painting and want to do a class... want to join me Mom?!

Where:  Painting with A Twist in Frisco

Website:  paintingwithatwist.com

Hoping they do some kind of painting night that will create a nice painting for either the hallway or laundry room or bedroom.

Almost there...

The girls had a tough day today.  Both were so tired and exhausted.  They would have spurts of feeling better and start to move more and then realize that they just don't have the energy and ended up back on the couch watching tv.  Riley couldn't stop coughing all day and her coughs seemed to get longer and longer.  Will definitely watch her in the morning to see if we need to go back to the dr. as my Dad has bronchitis and Mom has pneumonia and their Dr. said that many patients that are getting the flu are having to come back as it is progressing into one of these two.  Praying hers doesn't!!

Their fevers were gone today which is a blessing!!  Riley's started creeping back up, but after resting, she was completely fine.  We still spent lots of time watching tv and just laying down on the couch.

Jeremy and I were able to get ahold of the important people with CHIP and Medicaid.  Took a while to finally get through only to find that I had no authority to speak about Madi's healthcare case so Jeremy called and added me to that.  He is the case head and so they'd only talk to him, but being that he was at work, it would have taken him away from work for a long time.  Anyway - I finally was added and took care of Madi's healthcare and got everything rolling there.  Will take up to 30 days to have her healthcare complete.  I also was able to get the forms needed for Monica as well as contact phone numbers and some information that will help her when she goes to request for Madi's healthcare under her.

Today Monica took in all the enrollment paperwork and everything is all set.  What a total blessing for everyone!!  Still in awe of how everything worked out and how Madi is still able to be at Ethridge.  So awesome!

Tomorrow I'm home again with our sweet girls.  Will need to pick up Riley's work and report card after school.  Hoping the girls just keep getting better... they are truly so sweet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Need to make these...

Working on organizing our laundry room... and these would be really cute baskets that would be easy to wash and I could make them for cheap!

http://www.bernat.com/home/SmallStash_Baskets.pdf

Guardianship Paperwork

When Madi first came to stay with us, we had to fill out important guardianship for us to be able to be her guardians and to allow her to go to Ethridge.  Since Monica is back and they are living together, it became very clear very fast that steps needed to be taken to revoke the guardianship on our end so that Monica could make decisions and become the guardian again.

I had to talk to Student Services as well as Mrs. Gooding (principal) and our secretary to figure out what steps needed to be taken so that we could ensure the best outcome for Madi.

Talked with Monica this morning and shared with her the information that I had.  Turns out that she didn't have to work until 5pm and that she was able to come out this way to take care of paperwork today.

So she came out here and we drove to Lewisville.  The girls were really good and Julia was totally out of it (poor thing!!).

We met with Martha Dennis who was extremely understanding and helpful.  We signed all the necessary paperwork and got it all straightened out.  Was a total God thing once again.

We just started the second semester of the school year.  In order for Madi to continue to go to Ethridge despite being out of the district, she could only complete the semester.  Which means that she is able to finish the second semester and end her fifth grade year at Ethridge.  What a total blessing!!!

There were many things that were hurdles: Monica's license has Kathryn's address on it and is not the permanent license just the temporary license; she lives with Gaylan and Beverly, but they do not pay utilities so proving that they live there may prove a challenge (hopefully not!); they live in Levan not in lisd district... just to name a few.

So far none of them have proven to be an issue at all... praying that the utility bill will be no problem as well.

Monica went into Ethridge at the end of the day and was able to obtain new enrollment paperwork for Madi and will fill it out and bring it back tomorrow.

What a blessing that it is all working out so wonderfully and that things are finally returning to where they needed to be.

Flu

Last night was a tough one.  Julia had trouble breathing and woke up several times and was just miserable.  Lots of hugs and sweet time with her, but felt so bad.  This morning she was still running at 101.2 fever when she woke up despite taking medicine.  She was very tired and lethargic.  Riley was feeling much better and didn't have a fever.  Thought about sending her to school, but chose to keep her home and I'm glad I did.

I called the dr. at 9:00am when they opened and we got there for an appointment at 9:20am.  So thankful we live so close to our Dr!!!  They weighed Jules (32 lbs) and then took us in the room and did a flu test.

Dr. came in a few minutes later with a squinted face and an "ouch!  poor baby!"  so we knew it wasn't good.  Turns out that Julia has both the flu strain A and the flu strain B at the same time.  Basically a double flu.  And her temp at the Dr. was 102.6.  Poor baby is right!!

We talked about it and ways to help them.  Then we talked about Riley and he said it'd be good to check her because if her sickness was just a bad cold, it could be very likely that she could catch the flu from Julia and that we'd be out of work for another week from then. So they did a swab on her and she still has the flu.  Still testing positive and still contagious to others.

Dr. said that the earliest that the girls can go back to school is on Monday.  And that it may be likely for either of them to spike fevers again even though they may seem better.  That many parents see that the fever is gone and send their kids back to school even though they are still contagious and then it spreads to more kids.  So he said that they need to stay quarantined until at least Monday.

We spent the day on the couch watching tv - mostly a hundred Dora shows that the girls both agreed on.  Julia asked for her napmat and spent part of the day sleeping on it as well.  She is now on Tamiflu since we caught her sickness within 48 hours.  It knocks her out and she had a really great morning nap right after the Dr.  And went to bed so fast.  Poor girl :(

Looking forward to a sweet day tomorrow with the girls and praying that they get healthy soon!

Monday, January 21, 2013

In a Fog

I fell asleep with Julia tonight and needed to type up my lesson plans.  Jeremy came ina nd started rubbing my back.  I said "hmmm.... that feels good!" (which I never say)
Jeremy said "You wanted to get up and do your lesson plans.
I said "Huh?  I already did one.  I already did one."  (while conducting my hand in the shape of an L in front of me and was incredibly smiling and happy and totally out of it)
Jeremy repeated that I wanted to do the plans.
I said again:
"I did one!  I did one!"
"uh-hmm... already did one!"

I have no recollection of this at all and he keeps making a conducting L and laughing.  Said I was very happy, but has no idea what I was talking about!

Flu

The dreaded flu has hit our home.  Riley has been sick with a fever since Saturday night.  Last night was 101 and this morning she got up to 102.  Poor girl.  I told her that I was sorry she wasn't feeling well.  Her response was "It's alright Mom.  It's not your fault."  Precious, precious girl.

Julia has gone over to her several times to hug her and to feel her forehead.  She keeps saying "Riley going to the doctor?"  Being that we're past the 24 hour time frame to catch it fast enough, that it costs $100 for the Tamiflu and it only cuts it down by a day and a half and doesn't make you feel better, and that so many others have caught this, we're now just praying that Riley is able to fight this off quickly.  Julia has already been exposed and started coughing today.  Praying that she can stay healthy.

I'll be off of work tomorrow to stay home with the girls.  Keeping Julia home as well tomorrow as she's just as likely to be exposed at school and it'll be easier to let her rest when she is home.

Moving Day

This morning was very strange.  It truly set in that Madi will not be living with us anymore.  Jeremy and I were both talking and wondering all morning if we had truly made the right decision.  We hadn't doubted it until today.  But everything happened so fast this weekend and we truly know that it is the right thing to do; just not easy.  Our biggest concern was making sure that Madi was not crushed in her spirit, that she would be able to understand it was not her fault as to why things needed to change, and that our relationship and all we had built with her the last year and a half was not wasted.

Monica and Gaylan came over with a U-haul this morning and before we got moving, we sat and talked for a few hours.  We asked Dad to pray before we all talked.  Jeremy and I had written down about nine questions we wanted to ask Monica, but it turned out it wasn't even necessary and it wasn't the path we needed to go down.  There were a lot of emotions - each of us cried or teared up several times.  And all of us had one goal in mind: making sure Madi was on the right path.

We laughed, we cried, we shared funny stories and at the end of everything, we're still family, we still love each other and we're still all in it for Madi.  Monica will be bringing Madi to school every morning, I will take Madi to our house and then she will pick her up from there every afternoon.  Her job is willing to work with her which is amazing.  This will allow Madi to stay at Ethridge and finish out the year.

It was pretty crazy the amount of things she had accumulated in the past year and a half.  We got everything loaded in the U-haul - Julia even helped by holding things in the doorway.  Riley is sick and she was laying down on the couch the entire time.

We gave hugs and they went to my parents' house to pick up the rest of the items (beds, furniture, etc...) to put in storage until they get their own place.

Jeremy and I were so amazed at how God truly worked it out.  If God had not been in this and we had not all been able to see that He was going to work this for good, it would not have ended in this way.  Many other families would have gotten incredibly angry at one another and this would have created major rifts.  It doesn't mean that there isn't emotion in it.  We were all able to express how we felt honestly with also not being rude, blaming or being hurtful.    This was not easy on any of us.  It could only have ended the way it did because of God being in each one of us and working through each one of us.

We are very excited to see what comes of it all and how things evolve from here.

Romans 8:28 "And we know thatGod causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Listening

Today was an odd day inside of my head.  I spent time at the park with Julia - first time in forever that I have had time with just her.  Jeremy had a special morning with Riley getting donuts and picking up his wallet at work that he forgot yesterday.  They had a great time together.

We had our date night out tonight at Maggiano's - had been planned for about a week now. Was perfect timing as there was much still on our minds.

I packed up Madi's room.  Everything is ready for her.  Felt that would be important as it will be emotional enough when she gets here and if they had to pack everything, it would make it even harder and more emotional.  The girls asked about her several times today and we shared that she would be with her mom.  They just said "ok" and looked sad.  Julia said "I don't want Madi to go with her mom!  I no want her to go!"  Broke my heart.  Riley was very quiet.  In all of this, we know that it is the right decision.  It doesn't make it easy.  And it won't be.  But there is no doubt that things needed to be broken so that they could get mended.  Madi needs her mom and her mom needs to be mom.

Tonight I listened again to the Rock Parable from the podcast our pastor did.  Shed a whole new light on it and I didn't remember all of it.  Truly spoke to my heart and confirmed our decision.  Here is what was said after the parable (words in quotations are my references):


“I couldn’t hold it any longer.” - (Us)

When you (Monica) ask someone in your family (Us) to do what you are created and held responsible to do by God, you are asking them to hold your rock.  And the longer that you’re gone and you prolong your responsibility, you are having them hold your rock.  They don’t want to let go.  The mental responsibility and commitment is there.  But the physical exhaustion – they let go.  The emotional commitment can no longer hold the responsibility for the family in and of themselves.  And they let that go.

And you (Monica) wonder… I thought everything was ok.  I thought we had talked about this.  I thought you knew I’d be gone this much… 

There are so many rocks being held and fingers are getting slippery.  Emotional exhaustion is being taken over.  People are being asked to hold rocks that they don’t have the strength to hold.  I choose to cheat selfish ambition for my family.


And that sums it all up.  We just couldn't do it any longer.  And Monica was created and is held responsible to hold this rock.  I know that things will be broken for a time.  They will also heal.  

Sneezing is Painful

Julia woke up so sweetly this morning and we got up.  She looked outside at the bright morning and said "It woke up!"  We went downstairs and she wanted some yogurt.  She opened it up so proud that she could do it herself.  We walked over to the table in the dining room.  She set it on the table and then looked toward me with squinty eyes.  Her head reared back while her eyes shut, she sneezed while her head flew forward hitting her forehead on the table.  She groaned a little and cried.  I held her.  The girl now has a red mark across her forehead.  Sneezing is painful.

Holding a Rock

This morning I woke up thinking about everything.  And it clicked about what Pastor had preached on last Sunday.  Hadn't thought about the sermon all week long (sorry Pastor John!) but remembered the real-day parable that he shared at the end and was shocked.  Why hadn't I thought of this and realized it was exactly what we needed to hear?

The title of the sermon was "I choose to cheat my selfish ambitions for the health of my family."  Meaning that I choose to leave my desires and wants for what is best for my family.  Here is the parable:

Imagine that your neighbor comes over to you and tells you that he has some errands to run and that he really needs you to hold this 30 lb. rock.  He tells you it is really important and he just really needs you to hold it while you stand in your front yard.  You think it's strange, but you do it anyway.

20 minutes goes by.  An hour goes by.  Several hours go by.  The rock is getting heavy but you know it is important so you keep holding it.  You see the neighbor's car come up and you think "oh good - this was getting hard and heavy!"  The neighbor says "hold on!"  and goes into the house.  Then comes over and says "Hey - I know you've been holding the rock a while, but I just have a few more things to do.  Just keep holding it ok!?"  So you muster all the strength you can to hold it and tell him to go ahead - after all, he says it is important and you want to help.  He leaves again.

Hours go by.  And more hours go by.  You find yourself looking for his car and when he finally pulls up, you feel relieved.  However, he runs out and says "I know you've been holding the rock for a long time now.  There is just one very important thing I need to do.  I'll be back as soon as I can.  Just keep holding it."  You're very tired, it's very heavy and hard to hold, but you want to help and he asked you.  So you tell him to hurry - please hurry!! - but go ahead.

An hour goes by.  It starts to get dark.  The rock is incredibly heavy.  Your arms are incredibly sore.  You see the neighbor's car coming, but you can't hold it any longer.  It starts to slip.  You try to grab and hold it, but it slips out and you just can't hold it any longer.  The 30 lb. rock crashes to the ground and breaks into hundreds of pieces.

The neighbor gets out of his car and yells "What happened?  How did it break?  How could you drop it?"  You tell him that you just couldn't hold it any longer.  That he had you hold his rock too long and that you just couldn't do it any longer as your strength had given out. It wasn't that you hadn't tried or that you hadn't given all you could.  It was just too much of a burden to keep while he was out running his errands.

Then Pastor John told the congregation that there were some of us that were holding rocks.  Heavy rocks.  Rocks that we were asked to hold and that were someone else's to hold.  That we kept holding them because they had asked and we wanted to help and be kind.  But that they were not ours to continue to hold and we tried our best to keep them, but it was getting too heavy.  That we needed to realize that we needed to give the neighbor's rock back to the neighbor.  To give the neighbor what is rightly the neighbor's.  And to let go of the burdens that are not ours.  To stop doing for others what they need to do for themselves.

Wow.  Woke up this morning remembering that story and just in awe.  That God is speaking so clearly to us that it is time to let Madi go back to Monica.  And we've continued to hold on when it wasn't meant for us.  And we're keeping her from what she needs to be responsible for and us from our responsibilities.

Thank you God for making this crystal clear in such a tough decision.  And for the peace that we are making the right choice.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Released and Moving Forward


It has been almost two years since Madi first came to our house.  At first, we were told that Monica would be back in December…then January…then March…then summer and finally a year and a half later, she was back and finished with her coursework in the Philippines.

The original plan was that Monica and Madi would get a place of their own and figure something out by December 1st, 2012.  Many, many reasons why Monica needed to jump back into the role as mom and that Madi needed to be back in her role as Monica’s daughter.  Not to mention that Jeremy and I needed to be back in our roles as Aunt and Uncle instead of parents and to reestablish our family of four.

Monica came and a few days into her stay at our home (2 ½ to be exact) she chose to pack and take Madi over to Kathryn’s house.  She told me that she had to figure out who she could inconvenience the most.  She did need things done and needed help, but with two girls and jobs there wasn’t much we could do other than what we did leading up to her returning.  It was now her chance to be the adult and take charge of the two of them.  With Dr. Ted’s help and some hard work, it would all work out.

We were torn because we didn’t want Madi to have to leave her friends or school.  It hasn’t been the easiest time having her at our house but I can honestly say that we have worked our tails off and gone above and beyond what we needed to do and for longer than has been necessary.

However, it did not make sense to have Monica in the house as there wasn’t an extra car for her to use to get places and get things moving forward, we don’t have the finances to feed and help another person and it was time for our family to become our family again and her family to become her family.

December 1st was the original date given to her that the two of them needed to be out of our home.  It came and went.  Or at least, for Madi it did.  Monica stayed with Ranny and Kathryn;  Madi came back to live with us since then.  Things have only gotten harder and rougher on our end. 

So it has been almost two months since then and we’re at a crossroads.  Jeremy and I have had many discussions about what the right next step is.  We find ourselves exhausted dealing with Madi and all of the things that are going on with her at the moment.  We find ourselves talking about her and missing out on our girls.  We find ourselves very irritated, constantly having talks with her and trying to help motivate her and help her make right choices, but she has no interest in making better choices and instead gives us constant grief, ugly and nasty hate looks and then manipulates situations to make it seem as though it is not her fault and it is our fault.

We find that Jeremy often gets more irritated with the girls and then yells at them because he’s spent all his energy dealing with Madi and irritated at her.  I am tired and fed up with the sass, looks, and constant energy that is taken away because Madi demands constant attention and if she doesn’t get it, she talks and talks and talks and can not handle any attention being on either of the other girls.  She gives nasty looks to Riley especially and is always working to make her feel ‘less’ than good.  It has truly been a difficult chapter in our family’s life.

After a tough couple of days, Monica wrote yesterday to ask if she could spend time with Madi this afternoon.  We had a sleepover planned with her friend Elizabeth and had it planned since Sunday.  Madi was told that she needed to finish her itinerary for her trip (her project) and clean her room.  We have started allowing the girls to use their iPods on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons during piano lessons if their school work is finished.  Riley has to read to me before the lessons;  Madi needs to do Fasttmath and any homework that is assigned which is very rare.

All week, Madi moaned and groaned and spent hours and hours trying to find information… and for some reason, she couldn’t figure it out.  I helped find some websites and Jeremy found some information as well.  Interesting considering she is able to find information about her video games and ask tons of questions and research anything related to them.  Has everything to do with effort and whether she cares about it or not.

So we get to Thursday… she was told that she needed the itinerary finished and her room cleaned to keep the sleepover.  Then Monica asked to have time and time with her mom definitely surpasses a sleepover since she rarely talks to her and has barely seen her since she has been back in the States.   That being said, we let Madi know that she still needed to finish her itinerary because it wouldn’t take her long.

She had two days finished out of eight days and that took her hours and hours and hours.  And tons of tears, complaints, and attitude.  Not fun. 

I start my piano students last night and she chooses to go upstairs and play with the sister of the student having her lesson.  I called up to remind her that she might want to work on her stuff.  She told me that she’d work on it soon.  An hour later, she was still playing with the girls upstairs.  Her choice.  She’s a big girl and she can make those kinds of choices.  Totally fine with me.  However, she has to live with the consequences of her actions.

She then got to work – and actually worked – on her project with no behavior issues at all.  And somehow managed to do all five days in an hour and a half.  Fabulous!  Not sure why she couldn’t have managed to do this without wasting hours of her time and energy and frustration and nasty looks and driving us crazy with her awful attitude when she could somehow only manage to get two days done in hours of time.

When asked if she only worked hard and got it done because there was something in it for her (a sleepover) she shrugged her shoulders and didn’t answer.  This is typical.  She hardly answers questions where she knows that the question is true.

She then went into her room and cleaned it.  Put tons of stuff under the bed, under her desk, in her closet.  We talked ahead of time about how it needed to actually be cleaned and not stuffed just anywhere and everywhere.

In the meantime, I went in the playroom and found her brand new violin in its case laying on the floor in the middle of the playhouse.  Turns out she had wanted to show it off and left it there for a few hours while other kids came upstairs and played during lessons.  I told her that she almost screwed herself out of a violin because if a kid had done anything to it or fallen on it in the soft case, it could have been damaged badly.  She said nothing and just sat there.  I collected the violin and told her that it would be put up until a later time as she needed it for jr. high and we wanted it to be able to be used instead of broken and she was obviously not taking care of her things.  She then said that she went to work on her project and left it there.  So we had a talk about how you still have to take care of your things.  Exhausting.  Truly exhausting.

Moving on…

So I let Elizabeth’s mom know that there will be no sleepover.  Elizabeth cried for three hours she was so upset.  Her mom was very frustrated.  And we get to today.

Today started out fine.  Normal day. At the end of the day, Madi comes in my room and I gave the girls an ice cream sandwich to eat.  They gave them to us free!

Madi told me that Elizabeth cried for three hours last night.  I asked if she explained why she couldn’t do the sleepover.  She told me that she said that I didn’t think her room was clean enough and that there was something about her work ethic. Hmmm… yes, partly true.  However, the blame was immediately put on me.  Not happy about that.  Have had many conversations with Madi about honesty and taking responsibility and they haven’t gone well.  But this was very frustrating.

I said “Oh?  Ok.”  And then Madi asks “So when you told me I had to have my itinerary finished and my room clean so that I could have a sleepover, were you hoping that I wouldn’t be able to finish it so you could cancel it?  And you were mad that I got it done so you canceled it?”

Wow.  Wow.  Really??!!  I got quite heated about that one and waited a few minutes before launching into a talk about responsibility and that yes, she did get it done… And only after wasting so much of my time and energy and whining and complaining.  And that it was very obvious that she didn’t feel bad at all that she was responsible for her actions and choices.  Elizabeth missed out on coming over because Madi chose to play upstairs, chose to be lazy in her work all week and then cleaned her room and didn’t really clean it.  I was very insulted and told her that I was appalled that she would actually think that I was looking to disappoint her friend, her mom and her after being the one to invite Elizabeth over on Sunday night – five nights earlier.  I let her know that she needed to really think over what she had said and that I would hope she’d know I’m not that kind of person.  Completely insulted that she would try to make it look as though this was my fault.

Again, moving on…

As soon as Madi and I had the talk, I knew that Jeremy and I needed time to decompress and really work through everything that is going on.  I didn’t give Monica a choice and told her that Madi needed to go stay with her until Monday afternoon so that Jeremy and I could regroup.  It had been a long week, but honestly, it has been a really long year and a half.

Monica came to pick her up and met me at Walmart.  We went shopping together.  Was fascinating because Madi begged for loads of things.  Monica bought her several of her favorite items which will be nice for her to have while over there.  It was crazy how much she pointed at things and held things and begged.

We got back to our house and finally had a talk about what had been going on.  I shared a lot of what we were dealing with.  Madi gave plenty of evil looks and lots of shoulder shrugs that said “I don’t care.”  However, these too come with tweens and are not excusable, but are not shocking either.  I shared our struggles with her and all that we are going through and have been going through.

Monica halfway jokingly said “Maybe she needs more iPod and computer time.”  I was extremely frustrated by this comment as it was also insulting.  I shared that Madi has plenty of opportunity to do iPod and computer time if she does her work and she doesn’t have tons of it.  Instead she pouts and sulks and moans and cries and fights us on it and wastes her time.  But she needs to take responsibility for it and doesn’t.

I told Monica that the girls can use their iPods on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have lessons.  Madi chimed in that she can’t.  I explained that yes, she can  - when she gets her work done.  And then shared what she chose to do instead.  She just looked down.  Again, trying to make us out to be liars and to look as though she just isn’t allowed to do anything.  And by work, I mean doing part of her project and Fasttmath.  We’re literally talking 30 minutes to an hour at most if she applies herself.

So we finish our discussion.  There really isn’t anything more to say. I ask Madi if she wants to print off the directions for her science project.  She doesn’t want to, but Monica tells her it is a good idea.  As she is printing, I tell Monica that it is very difficult for me to juggle a full time job, two part time jobs, three kids and the house.  She tells me that she wouldn’t be able to handle Madi right now. 
She also shared with me earlier in our afternoon that her credit will not allow her to get into the apartment for six months and that she’s working with a realtor to look into a rental house.  Both of these things let me know that there is a level of expectation that WE are able to handle Madi, but she is not.  And that WE are expected to continue to be her parents until Monica gets a place or at least until the school year ends.  June we’ve kind of expected.  But the assumption that we have the time, resources and energy to raise our niece instead of her is just that – an assumption.

Madi and Monica got in the car.  From what I could see, Madi already had her iPod out.  They were on their way to Olive Garden and to see a movie.  I am glad she got to do these things, but I also felt torn because we are busting our butts to provide and take care of Madi and cutting our budget and rearranging things so that she can stay in her school.  But then Monica talks about how happy she is where she is even though she is not at her dream job and takes her out after she has been a nightmare at our home.  Reminds me so much of a divorce situation.  We are the parents with custody and we have all the responsibility and she is the divorcee who is free to live her life and only does things that are fun with her child rather than having to raise her.

Jeremy and I had a long discussion tonight.  We asked a lot of questions:  What did God call us to do?  What is He calling us to do now?  What is our role?  What is Monica’s role?  Is what we are doing best for our family?  For our girls?  For our relationship?  Is what we are doing best for Madi and Monica? 

We spent quite a bit of time talking about what God called us to do.  A year and a half ago, God called us to take care of Madi and raise her in our home, to provide her with a stable environment where she could live in America again and which would give her proper nutrition and church. 

Our role is to be parents to our girls.  To raise our girls.  To be an Aunt and Uncle to Madi.

Monica’s role is to be Madi’s mom.  When Monica returned, her role as Mom returned to her and the responsibilities were then to be hers to raise Madi.

God is calling us to step back and step out.  He is calling us to take care of our family and give Monica back her role as Mom.  He is calling us to a peaceful home environment and to health for ourselves.  He is calling us to step down as guardians and step up as parents to our girls.  He is calling us to have more time together as a couple and to stop parenting a child whose parent is capable and able.  He is calling us to stop taking on roles we are not meant to continue to carry and to let Madi be raised by her mom.

Before God called us to take her, God called Monica to be Madi’s mom.  Before God asked us to say “yes” to raising her and providing, God gave that to Monica and gave her resources to do it.  Once again, we have to hand the reins over and let her and Madi find their way together.  And sooner rather than later.

This is honestly one of the hardest things we will ever do, but it is also one of the healthiest things we will ever do for our family.  We had hoped to make it until June, but it is clear and apparent that we should have been more firm on the December 1 date and had Madi move with Monica.  She needs to be Mom and we need to parent our children.  Madi needs to be with her and I am sure she will be fine there.  The only way they can figure out life together is if they are together and work through this chapter.  It is not our responsibility any longer and Monica needs to step up.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is what is necessary.  For our family.  For Monica.  For Madi.  It is not easy, but it is completely needed.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Exhausted

Has been a very trying week with a tween in the house.  Oh. My. Word.  Everyone says that it is good practice for when Riley and Julia get older which is somewhat scary being that we'll then have a teenager and a tween at one point.  I realize that all of her behavior is very normal for a tween.  Doesn't make it easier to deal with and we are definitely frustrated beyond words.

A small (very small) glimpse at some of what we've been dealing with:

- is needing to work on her project for LEAP and takes over two hours to look up restaurants online only to not find one.  Which is interesting because she has no problem finding answers to a million other things in five seconds and gathering information, but can not figure out how to ask questions about what she is needing.

- takes over two days to get one day of her itinerary done, but when told that she will have a sleepover with a friend, she actually works and gets the entire rest of the trip done in only an hour and a half.  Haven't seen her work that hard in weeks and weeks.  And the information is good.  Truly only motivated if there is something in it for her and as whiny and crying and complaining about it all and slow working if there isn't.

- decides to show off her new violin to two of my piano students while I am giving a lesson downstairs and takes it into the playhouse in the playroom instead of letting them see it in her room.  Then leaves it in there on the floor in the middle of one of the houses while other kids come in and play.  Says she decided to work on her project and just left it there on the floor.  Thankful the kids didn't play on it, but can only imagine what would have happened if one kid had fallen on it... definitely wouldn't have had a violin for the fall.

- brings her iPod to school but drops it and now has a crack at the bottom of her screen.

- is getting negative reports from teachers at school about her behavior, attitude and lack of work.  Which is frustrating because she is capable, but just isn't trying and doesn't care.

Again, I realize this is totally normal, but it is extremely tiring to deal with.  Especially on top of trying to get work, home and other things done with two other kids.  Just keep reminding myself that it is for a season, that this is not easy for her either and that God has a plan in all of this.

Fingers

Riley:  Eat my finger!....  Bite my finger!!

Jeremy:  You mean 'pull my finger' and no I do not want to do that.  (lots of laughter soon followed)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Puzzles

Julia continues to blow us away with her puzzle abilities.  She is so amazing at putting together the 50 states puzzle.  My dad was over today and we did the puzzle together (more like watched her do it herself).  My dad would put a state in the wrong place and she would say "no - it not go there!"  and then put it in the right place.  At one point, she even said "Grandpa, don't do my puzzle!"  As she gets closer to the end, she'll tell me not to clap yet.  I'll get my hands ready and she'll let me clap after the last piece is put in the right place.  So incredibly cute!

Scripture Memorization

Riley has been learning a few verses at church to memorize.  Her first verse to memorize was John 3:16.  Today she told us her new one:  Hebrews 12:1.  We started talking about verses in the Bible and I shared the shortest one:  Jesus Wept.  Then I told her I would teach her a new one.  So she learned Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and I will show you great things."  She asked if I could say it and she could echo it after me a few times so she could learn it.  Then she said "That's cool, Mom!"  We talked about what it meant and then said it a few more times.  Love her big heart!!

Singing Loud

Madi told us that Riley was yelling really loud during the music time at church today.  Riley agreed and said that she wanted to yell.  Later in the day she explained more about it:

"I yelled in church today so that God could hear me.  I didn't sing the songs - I wanted God to hear me. That's what they always say in church to be loud to God.  But God even knows what we say before we say it!"


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day Two of my Worst Nightmare

Today was much better.  I made Riley wear her hair in a ponytail and I did the same.  Not sure that really does anything, but it made me feel better!  Also made her put this special gel called "Fairy Tale" in her hair.  It has peppermint and other things in it that repel lice.  Figured it can't hurt.

She had a great day at school and no itching.  When we got home, I used an all-natural remedy from a friend that she had used on her boys when they had lice.  I put it on Madi's hair and Julia's hair for an hour.  They were great about sitting in the kitchen for an hour with it on their heads.  Then washed it off and all was good.

Washed Riley's hair tonight and then used the nit comb to go through her hair little by little again.  Nothing.  There is nothing there.  Comb didn't get anything on it either.  I used a special nit comb that is long, tight and awesome on her hair tonight.  Really loved it... as much as you could love a nit comb.

Did more laundry, made dinner, did the dishes, prepped lunches and work for tomorrow, gave showers to the girls and myself, folded several loads of laundry, washed all the jackets, changed out the sheets and pillow cases in our room, ...  yep, it was a hectic crazy day.

Tomorrow will mean less laundry as I'm at the end of it.  I took a Pottery Barn blanket and a duvet insert to the dry cleaner on my way to work as they were the two items that can not be washed in the washer and dryer.  Figured that I needed to get them out of the house asap and have them taken care of so that we can avoid having this again.

Jeremy and I truly feel that we're going overboard on cleaning, but we're both totally fine with hitting everything we possibly can.  Would be such a shame to miss something and then have to do this again because we weren't diligent the first time.

I definitely have new empathy for any family having to go through this.  Especially as I feel that we were fortunate that Nurse Jo checked her head and found it when it was in earlier stages before more had happened.  So thankful for her.  And now I'm much more informed about signs of lice and finding them.  So I guess there is a silver lining to it.  Still totally grosses me out.  Just thankful that Riley is such a trooper about it and that she is so confident about it.

When I dropped Julia off at school today, she looked at her teacher and said "Riley has bugs in her hair!"  I explained it to her teacher and she just smiled and said "When my daughter had it three times..."  We talked at lunch about it today and everyone had a story about it.  And it seems as though many of them dealt with it several times.  Praying that this is the extent of what we have to deal with...

Julia and Lice

Riley:  (to me)  Don't worry Mom.  I know exactly how to tell Julia about the bugs.  I know just what to say.  Let me talk to her.  (she walks over to Julia).  Julia.  Julia.  Julia!  I need you to listen to me.  I have something important to tell you.  There are bugs in my hair and I'm really sorry to tell you.  It will be alright.  You see my room?  There aren't any animals in here anymore.  No blankets.  Nothing.  No toys.  There's not much in here anymore.  I don't have my dolls or my stuffed animals.  There's like nothing in here.  Julia, you won't have any more animals in your room.  You won't have any more dolls in your room.  Nothing.  It will look like my room.  We have bugs.  But don't worry - you'll get them back in two weeks.  Okay?

Julia:  (crying)  Where my babies?  I want my babies!


Sharing Lice Stories

Riley: Dad told Grandma and Grandpa that he had told me that I shouldn't share with my friends that I have lice.  Grandpa said that I would.  He was right!  I shared with my friends at school.

Me:  You did?  What did you tell them?

Riley:  I don't remember.  But I told anyone who wanted to get close to me that they had to stay far away because I had bugs in my hair and I didn't want them to get it.

Me:  Honey, we got the bugs out yesterday, remember?  There aren't any in there anymore.

Riley:  Oh.  Really??!!  That's great!  Hadley told me that she has lice too.

Me:  She does?  How did she tell you?

Riley:  After I shared with the entire class that I have lice, Hadley said that she has lice too!  I didn't feel so alone with my lice.  It was like someone else had it too and we were together with our lice.

My Worst Nightmare

I have always heard horror stories about having to deal with lice.  Always hoped to avoid it at all costs.  But was not so fortunate in the past two days.

Riley's head has itched since Monday morning.  I looked at the base of her neck and saw that she had scratched it raw.  She also had dry skin on her legs and arms so I figured it was just like the eczema I was dealing with.  I put some Eucerin on it and didn't think much else about it.

Yesterday Ms. E said that Riley came up to her and said that she just couldn't stop itching her head and that she knew it wasn't lice because I had looked in her hair a few times and there weren't any bugs in it.  So she sent her down to my room to get lotion (which I hadn't brought with me to school) so I sent Riley to Nurse Jo.  Riley told Nurse Jo she needed lotion for her neck and was given lotion.

At the end of the day, Riley went into Nurse Jo's room and she checked Riley's head and found lice moving.  Ewww... makes me itch thinking about it.  I walked into the office and she gave me 'the look' that said it all.  I was like "No - seriously?!  eww..."  So she took Riley and I into the bathroom and dug through her hair with sticks until she found the moving lice and said "there it goes!  there it is again - you see it!"  Once I saw the bug moving, I was totally grossed out.

Had her check my head as well and Madi's as well.  Figured we wanted to get rid of this as soon as possible and wanted to make sure that we caught it all.  I checked Julia's head when we got home which is fairly easy because she has such fine hair.

It was pouring rain yesterday so we stopped at Walmart and bought several things and then stopped at a few more stores to get some things, but they were out so I got what I could find.

Went home to start the cleaning process on the house as well as Riley's head.  Took a long, long time to sift through her hair and do the treatment.  Vacuumed the entire house top to bottom, vacuumed the couches and cushions and pillows.  Decided to clean both girls rooms as though they both had lice just in case.  Put all her american girl dolls and stuffed animals (wow they have a ton in their rooms!!) in bags and set them in the garage to hang out in there for the next two weeks.  Put all the pillows in bags and set them out in the garage in bags as well.  Ripped off all sheets from Julia and Riley's rooms including all of their bedding.  Sprayed down their beds and mattresses with anti-lice spray as well as spraying in the car on their carseats and chairs.

The amount of laundry is insane.  I know we are probably going overboard, but I'd rather get rid of it once and for all.  We know that Madi's room is safe because they haven't been in there and haven't laid on anything so she wouldn't have caught it.  Her room will be next to clean through once all her stuff is put away from being at Poppi and Grammy's house... a little (lot) at a time.

Last night I did four loads of laundry - hot, hot water and then hot heat in the dryer.  Today I am on load five.  So nine loads total in the last two days.  And we're still on bedding.  Not much clothing yet.  I have four more loads I think and I should be good after tomorrow to do our normal loads.  Tired is an understatement.

The wildest thing is that I only saw one bug moving in her hair.  I did use a zapper thing from CVS that supposedly finds the lice and when it hits them, it zaps them and kills them on the spot.  It stops buzzing when it is killing the lice.  I truly think it worked as it did this four or five times.  Then we washed her hair (thinking that the live lice went down the drain) and did the comb thing through Riley's hair which took a few hours.  Never did find any live or dead lice in her hair.  Did find what we think may have been a nit or two and did definitely find one egg.  But other than that, there really wasn't much there.  And her hair was very easy to look through.

Such a pain!!!!  We went to bed late last night.  In fact, the girls did as well.  I fell asleep with Julia with my makeup still on and my teeth unbrushed.  This has not happened in forever... as in almost never.  Maybe one other time in the last twenty years.  Woke up and felt pretty well rested, but mentally tired thinking about whether or not we got all these tiny little annoying bugs.